Legal action has been launched by the City watchdog against two individuals and one company over investments in care homes thought to have left investors with at least £30 million in losses.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it has begun proceedings in the High Court against Robin Forster, Richard Tasker and Fortem Global Limited over alleged links to unauthorised collective investment schemes that offered “unrealistic” returns.
The regulator said it is looking to secure an injunction and return lost money to affected investors.
It said the schemes were run by two of Mr Forster’s companies that are now in administration – Qualia Care Developments Limited (QCD) and Qualia Care Properties Limited (QCP) – which owned 13 care homes in the North East.
Around £50 million in total had been invested in the schemes across the care homes since 2016 before they collapsed, according to the FCA.
The FCA alleges that the schemes sold or claimed to sell investments in rooms in the homes, as well as a further three owned by other companies.
The schemes were promoted by Fortem Global Limited, but none of the promotional material was approved by an authorised person, the FCA claimed.
It alleges that the schemes offered unrealistic returns of between 8% and 10% a year, but that there was “never any real prospect that the operation of the care homes could generate profits that could meet those returns”.
The FCA added: “Payments of this kind were only ever likely to be possible by taking money from later investors to pay the earlier investors – unsustainable characteristics which are present in Ponzi schemes.”
Mr Forster allegedly also moved £1.8 million in funds from his QCD and QCP companies shortly before their administration into a new bank account, leaving the two firms without any funds, according to the FCA.
The FCA also alleges that Mr Tasker – the sole director of Fortem Global Limited – was knowingly concerned in the activities of the company.
But it said it is not taking legal action against Qualia Care Limited, which runs most of the care homes.
Mr Forster, Mr Tasker and Fortem Global Limited were not immediately available for comment.